Mass Effect Andromeda has been criticized for its portrayal of a trans character, with developer BioWare being slated for including unrealistic dialog that is not reflective of what a trans person would say in conversation.
During the game, players encounter a trans woman named Hainly Abrams. When Hainly is asked what brought her to the Andromeda galaxy by Ryder, she replies: “Back home, I was filling test tubes in some dead-end lab. People knew me as Stephan. But that was never who I was.”
Hainly continues: “I knew what I could do. And I know who I wanted to do it as. ‘Hainly Abrams. Andromeda Explorer.’ That’s me. Feels good. Feels right.”
This exchange has been criticized online, with players saying that Hainly referring to her deadname (the name she was born with) so abruptly was not realistic. Twitter user @lonelytiefling, who first shared the image of the conversation with Hainly Abrams online, said: “One thing: just about 0.000000000000001% of trans people will just tell you their deadname on first meeting, what the FUCK is this.”
>Hey, what brought you here?
bioware please pic.twitter.com/1bthNIXfiG
— Lone (@lonelytiefling) March 20, 2017
Some have expressed that the NPC’s dialogue should have been written after BioWare discussed her character with a trans individual. One user wrote: “You can really tell they obviously consulted no-one who is actually trans when writing that.”
The conversation has been compared to a dialogue exchange in the Baldur’s Gate expansion Siege of Dragonspear, in which the character Mizhena stated that she was trans after the player inquired into the origin of her unusual name. However, Mizhena was directly questioned about her name, which made more sense that she would discuss her deadname. In this instance, Hainly states her deadname with no prompting from the player-character Ryder.
Mizhena sparked a wave of controversy around Siege of Dragonspear‘s release, with many flooding the expansion’s user reviews in order to bemoan the mere inclusion of a trans character in the Baldur’s Gate universe. The resulting furore eventually resulted in developer Beamdog altering the character’s dialogue, after its members of staff continued to be harassed online, while the creator of the Baldur’s Gate universe Ed Greenwood released a statement saying he was “saddened” by the response. Hopefully the conversation surrounding Hainly continues to revolve around her portrayal, rather than escalating into certain members of the gaming community decrying the inclusion of a trans character in Mass Effect Andromeda in general.